11.10.2008 22 °C
I live in a strange place - it's all been interesting so far. I am really not sure how many nuns live here - I think it is around 20 or so nuns. That number changes depending on who you ask. I do need to say as I have gotten to know the nuns that some of the nuns are very committed to their way of life. They are very serious and do devout themselves to their spiritual quest. I still feel this is a small number of them and I still really don't understand fully the reason for this place. However as I learn more I am starting to think their role is to learn the teachings of Buddha and seek enlightenment - and maybe that is all it is - that's my best guess.
In my English class I have 9 nuns and 1 monk - that number changes from day to day depending on what is happening - their ages are from 16 to 30. The one Monk that lives in the Nunnery is the nephew of the boss man of this Nunnery -(I have not met the boss man - I don't think that is the proper term to address him? as of yet as he was in America for 2 or 3 months raising funds - he just returned the other day). I am told that the nephew fell off of something and suffered from a brain injury of some kind - the nuns say he is OK however at times he gets very upset. It really does not explain why he lives here - the nuns say this would not be allowed in any other Nunnery - I am really not surprised. He is an odd sort of fellow- he actually fits right in with the other characters here.
My group of students can memorize really well and appear to do well it class - however without a book or direction they are totally lost. While a lot of focus has been put on copying (writing) grammar I have decided to make them have verbal conversations and have enforced the rule of only speaking English in class (this has not worked so well !!!) In class they can you use the right tense however get them out of the classroom and they still ask - "Where you go?" I always have to correct them - Where are you going?; Where did you go? They also do not understand the meaning of words they copy. It's all been interesting.r
We have hardly had any classes as it has been holiday time and they have had extra Puja days. As they still haven't figured out yesterday, tomorrow and today - it has been difficult to ask them if there is class or not. We are working on that - but it has been slow. I also figured out they can't really tell time or have any concept of time. We are working on that - but it has been slow - really slow. In Nepal the year is 2065 - the Nepali calendar is a little confusing so I have them using a standard calendar as I sort of don't understand that Nepali calendar - it is very confusing. Besides those little issues we have a lot of fun - they really like action songs, fairy tales and drawing. I now have them role playing dialogue - I am hoping they can experience conversations as opposed to just words and sentences. We laugh an awful lot so I think they do enjoy it.
In the evening (when the power is on) I do extra reading with one of the nuns - I did manage to find some really good books that are Nepali and English. As I found out some of the Tibet nuns can not read Nepali so these books have worked well to teach them how to read Nepali as well.
As the boss man (I have to find out how to address him) was coming back the nuns and monk really started to clean - washing floors (they have an odd way of washing the floor), dusting and doing yard work. The place is still pretty dirty and really not cared for at all but every little bit helps. The kitchen is pretty bad - so I just don't go there. Again it is just rinsing things under cold water - pots and pans, dishes, etc. are not really clean.
In the afternoon the nuns sit on the back lawn and have tea - this would be a tea called "salt tea". I had one tiny mouth full - it is like really gross !!! I don't know how they drink it - it is water, powered milk and salt (lots of salt). One day one of the nuns made me Lassie - which was really good - it is made with curd, fruit and powered milk. It is served very cold - it tasted like a milkshake. Mind you the curd did not sit well with me - however I did enjoy it - it was almost healthy !!!
I have not been feeling so great this past week however I realize my time is running out and I still had things I wished to see. I went to a place called Pashupatinath - this place has the most important Hindu temple in Nepal - however non-Hindus are not allowed inside the temple however there was a lot to see outside. I did manage to get sort of a picture of the backside of the golden bull - which is about 300 years old and very big. The temple is located on Bagmati River which would be like the Ganges - a very holy river. It is also the place for cremations - a little different then in the West - the body is covered with wood and then set on fire - right there by the side of the river - afterwards the ashes are put in the river. What luck I was able to see a "burning pyre" !!! At first I wasn't sure what I was looking at - I was on the other side of the river - other people were taking pictures so I did as well - I will put it up on my photo site. I am not sure if the burning body smells or not - I have a bad cold - thank goodness. Anyway I think that would be the worse job in the world to make sure there is enough wood and the body burns fully. The family is in a private area by their burning loved one. After that is finished they actually spend 13 days on the temple grounds in a mourning room. I don't know - if my family had to spend 13 days in a small enclosed space I think by the end of it we would be doing another cremation !!! As well every year after the death you need to return and ask for the blessing of one of the priest - this is very important if it is one of your parents that have died. The only people that are not cremated are the Holy men and babies under 6 months - I really don't know why?
There are also lots of Holy Men - some are really strange looking - I would have taken pictures of some of the stranger ones however you need to pay them every time you take their pictures. They as well live on the temple grounds. I also took a picture of this really strange looking things that had dolls at the top of it - so I asked why are there dolls at the top of those really high poles - I was told that during one of the festivals - I don't know which one - instead of a doll they put a female baby at the top !!!! I really didn't believe that so I went to ask one of the tourist guide people - he told me the same thing. I think my heart skipped a beat with fear - I am glad I did not see that.
After my visit to Pashupathinath I was off to Bodhnath. I will be spending two days here. It is the Tibetan community and I really find it nice, peaceful and relaxing here. I am also hoping that I feel better before getting on that plane next week - 22 odd hours in the air with a cold will not be good as well as a few minor other health things. I thought a nice peaceful relaxing place that has hot water and flush toilets (I am a little focused on these two things !!) will all be good !!!
I will be returning to the orphanage next week for one last visit before I leave for home as I have to say goodbye to the children. They want me to spend my last night with them - I will have to see about that - depending on the transportation issues to the airport this may not be possible.
The next blog entry will be my last as I am leaving to return home next week. So until then take care !!
Oh by the way the winter season has started here so it is much cooler - today it is 22C and will drop down to 17C tonight. It is very chilly !!!! I think I will be in for a bit of a surprise when I return home as I noticed today it is 9C dropping to -4C tonight.